The other day, I was out shopping for my husband’s family for Christmas. Amongst all the holiday decorations and other families who were together, I got to thinking about my friend whose daughter died earlier this year when she got swept downriver here in Colorado. That poor family. It was such a tragedy. She was only thirteen years old, and a twin no less! Then I thought about another friend whose dad died from cancer two years ago. They were best friends, and she said the smell of real Christmas trees and singing carols are the hardest. I have to admit, I haven’t been in a position of hard loss yet. Both of my parents and all of my siblings are alive. My grandparents are all gone but honestly, I was so young when they passed, I was never really close with any of them. So it’s hard for me to imagine this kind of deep grief, but I got to thinking. Although I don’t really want to think about what it would be like if my parents, one of my children or a close friend passed, what would it be like at the holidays, when everyone else is excited about parties and opening presents? As if it wasn’t hard enough without the holidays.
So, I thought I would offer some suggestions for getting through the holidays when you’re missing someone you love.
Let Yourself Grieve
It’s okay to feel sad, to miss someone that you’ve lost.
When the tears come, don’t hold them back. Let them come. And then let them go. Give yourself a break from them. It is okay to cry and it is okay to not cry. No one will judge you for doing either. Your loved ones and friends… they understand. Everybody knows that this time of year is really hard for you.
Let Yourself Be Supported
Friends and loved ones want you to be okay. And they usually feel helpless when you’re experiencing something as intense as the loss of a child or a parent. You might feel like you want to be left alone, or that you don’t want to be a burden to your family and friends, or ruin anyone else’s holiday spirit. Trust me when I say that they are anxiously waiting for you to let them help. Let them distract you for a while. Let them be strong shoulders for you.
Let Yourself Feel Happy
This tip probably hurts. How can I tell you to be happy when your loved one is gone?! When they’re not around to be happy, when they’ll never get to laugh again? Because I PROMISE YOU your loved one would want you to. I guarantee you that they do not want you to miss out on the laughter, the traditions, on the beauty of the holiday season. It’s okay to laugh – really, it is. It’s okay to go a whole minute without thinking about them. Your love for them does not diminish just because you didn’t think about them for a minute. Or two. Or twenty.
My friend, whose daughter died; she’s a mess. It’s been very difficult for her. It’s a huge loss and I’m sure all the family activity and celebrations will only remind her of her daughter. I’m not sure how she’ll get through the holiday season. But her friends and community will keep supporting her and we’ll help her get through it.
If you are the friend or family of someone who is grieving, please… be patient with them. Give them the room they need to experience their grief, but stay close by.
Be ready to do whatever it is they need to get through the holidays. Make sure they are eating healthy food, getting some exercise. It’s probably better to avoid alcohol or too much sugar, as that can make intense feelings even worse. Just keep telling them it’s okay to miss someone, and it’s okay to laugh too. If you are both missing that person, be each others’ comfort.
What are the holidays going to be like for you this year? Have you lost someone? Would you like to share with us who they are? Will you do something special to remember them this holiday season? Do you have any tips that you’d like share with our readers for how you’re getting through the holidays?
Hayley Hobson is an author, speaker, business coach, yogi, Pilates instructor, and holistic nutritional expert based in Boulder, CO. Her unique and intelligent style promotes strengthening while softening—empowering her clients to heal not only their physical bodies but their hearts and minds as well. To learn more about her nutritional courses, events, and custom programs, visit hayleyhobson.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
* DOWNLOAD HAYLEY’S FREE “HAPPY, HEALTHY HOLIDAY GUIDE” HERE.